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Reciprocal Weekend Cancelled

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Fish & Game  announces the end of Reciprocal Weekend with Maine & Vermont.

 

Reciprocal Weekend Ends

 

 

Edited by Skip
Spelin’

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The wording of the F&G news release  is a bit complicated, but, as I understand it, this season Maine and Vermont will allow Maine registration-free riding the first week of February for NH  riders, but NH will not allow Maine and Vt riders to ride registration-free in NH during the last week of January. What killed the reciprocity week was the  Maine and VT date change. For NH riders there's not much downside, for northern NH retail businesses it means fewer customers.   

Edited by jhwentworth

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I guess I don't get it...  Why can't NH just change their date too?  Because it's "the law"?  So change the law...  And even if we can't change the law in time for this seasons weekend, why does Capt. Walsh say "there is no way to have a reciprocity weekend going forward"?  Can't we at least change the law for next year if it's too late for this year?

It doesn't matter to me personally because I don't utilize that weekend, but I know a lot of people that do, and it just seems like BS red tape to me.  

 

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That weekend we usually either got out super early or just laid low. Other than the business people getting hurt again it doesn't bother us.

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From the Maine Snowmobile Association:

 

Free Snowmobile Weekend

Free Snowmobile Weekend in Maine is January 26-28, 2018. During this weekend, a nonresident (from another state or province) may operate a snowmobile in Maine (no reciprocity necessary) so long as he/she has a valid registration from his/her home state or province.

 

The change of weekend may not me as much of a problem as the way this is written. It says no reciprocity needed, I think the NH law may be based on reciprocity. I have been riding in Maine one weekend a year for the last 10 years. We moved away from this weekend, because the trails were typically lousy. Not so much because of crowds (we didn't notice much difference in crowds on other weekends, at least in Maine), but because some clubs there seem to have decided that if you don't pay for a registration, they aren't grooming that weekend. 

You can get a three day registration in Maine for under $50, not a lot at the end of the day, especially if the trails are better. It may be that this has run its course, and its OK to let it go. I am not sure it was changing many peoples long term riding locations. Sure, its nice to try a different place to ride, but I wonder how many people made a permanent change because if a rest ride on a reciprocal weekend. 

I think NH would be better off to offer a three day registration, for about half of the full year price. People could try the trails whichever weekend they like. 

Edited by PolarisCobra

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Sounds to me like there was a lack of communication between the three states, and someone dropped the ball.

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If it is such a big deal for NH why doesn't fish and game just let everyone have a free pass from out of state.  Problem solved!  No tickets given out...only  for unregistered sleds.  

I know this sounds simple and they are suppose to uphold the law but it can't be any simpler.  I know COMMON SENSE doesn't work any more.

It doesn't effect me accept when the Maine side of the family comes down to ride and visit.

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1 hour ago, CATRESERVE said:

If it is such a big deal for NH why doesn't fish and game just let everyone have a free pass from out of state.  Problem solved!  No tickets given out...only  for unregistered sleds.  

I know this sounds simple and they are suppose to uphold the law but it can't be any simpler.  I know COMMON SENSE doesn't work any more.

It doesn't effect me accept when the Maine side of the family comes down to ride and visit.

NH F&G doesn't have the authority to do what  you suggest., that lies with the the NH Legislature.

 

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There's an Associated Press story being published today in several NH newspapers and web sites on the loss of the reciprocal weekend between Maine, Vermont, and NH. The story makes the point that it was NH that required that other states offer reciprocity on the same weekend as NH. The NH legislature could fix this by simply offering a free weekend to all registered sleds from any state. If the state's goal is to bring business to NH retail businesses, why should we care if another state declines to offer the same deal to NH riders? Right now, for one weekend, NH riders can ride free in Maine and Vermont. That will deprive NH businesses of some amount of revenue, while not getting any revenue from Maine and Vermont riders.

The legislature needs to stop micromanaging things like this and leave the decision-making on dates and conditions to the state agencies in DPR/F&G. NH riders aren't harmed by the status quo, but northern NH retail businesses are harmed.

This AP story got a pretty wide distribution. I expected NH, Maine, and Vermont TV and newspapers to carry it, but I also saw it in a Roanake, Virginia newspaper site.Why the good people in Roanoke would be interested in a NH snowmobiling story is beyond me. Maybe it was a quiet news day down there.

  

Edited by jhwentworth

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The Legislature didn't change the statute. We can provide a registration free event whenever we would like through the event permit process. While both Associations understand the value of tourism, they are more concerned with dollars that support the motorized trail community directly. As costs rise, and are spread over a fewer number of riders, it becomes prohibitive for those on the margin. All three States have seen the demographics reports from the last US Census and the EBRI Retirement Preparedness data. It appears like a wedge that kills the Golden Goose, wiping out the tourism created by the motorized community.

 

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215-C:47 Reciprocity.

A snowmobile which is registered in Vermont, Maine, or Quebec shall be deemed to be properly registered for the purposes of this chapter if it is registered in accordance with the laws of the state or province in which it is registered, but only to the extent that a reciprocal exemption or privilege is granted under the laws of that state or province for snowmobiles registered in this state. For the purpose of this section, the executive director shall determine the extent of the privilege of operation granted by Vermont, Maine, and Quebec and, when necessary, adopt rules and charge fees to achieve a true reciprocity. The executive director's determination shall be final. 

This would be the F&G administrative director.  It's been interpreted as meaning the ride-free right must be identical. How would opening the all the state trails to out-of-state sleds qualify as an event? I do understand that it's possible to do this for a local event.

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So it is as was said in other posts earlier is the party that dropped the ball, not legislation. Time for passing of the buck. Dennis Etchels any comments? Feedback?

 

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The legislature failed to react when Maine changed their law in 2017, probably because they weren't aware of the change. The snowmobile community, BoT, F&G, NHSA, the North Country business community, and the larger NH snowmobile community also overlooked the change.

Maine (13104 7E)
The Commissioner may annually establish one 3-day consecutive period, 2 days of which are weekend days during which a non-resident may operate in the state a snowmobile that is not registered in Maine if the non-resident's snowmobile has a valid registration from another state or a Canadian province.

Vermont Title 23 Chapter 29 Sub-chapter 1 3202 

 Special decal exemptions. A snowmobile legally registered in another state or province may enter and operate in this State without a TMA decal as follows:

(5) The Commissioner may authorize the temporary operation of snowmobiles on designated regular or temporary trails for special events.

In February 2018 NHSA posted proposed changes to rule PART Fis 1509.01 RECIPROCITY

https://nhsa.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IP-Fis-1500-2-21-18-rev.pdf

In 2018 F&G  worked through the steps to process the proposed administrative rules. Obviously, the rules must comply with the statute. The process was complete in July 2018.

Captain David Walsh: "In May of 2018, NHF&G had to renew the Administrative Rules governing snowmobile and OHRV laws. Again, I reached out to Vermont and Maine, this time informing them that if they had any plans of changing their free weekend dates, now would be the time to tell me as our Rules were being renewed and I could easily make changes to keep Tri-State weekend intact. They again informed me that they had no intentions of changing the January date." 

Whenever Fish and Game is going to change a rule, the public process begins with the publication of the NOTICE form, which provides a summary of the proposed rules, the date, time and location of the public hearing(s) and the public comment period. After the public hearing, the Department publishes the Final Proposal, which contains the changes made as a result of public comment, and one of the last steps is when the Final Proposal goes before the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) for their review and approval.

Future of Free Weekend
The question going forward is, does NH want to create a free weekend where out-of-state registered snowmobiles can ride here? Is the benefit worth the costs? Costs being the added time and expense of grooming trails that will be heavily used, extra enforcement, and increased accident investigations (an inevitable by-product of a busy riding weekend). The concept of reciprocity where riders can make day trips and explore new trails and areas without worrying about borders is apparently gone as free weekends by individual states have no guarantee of falling on the same weekend, especially since some states have forgotten how to communicate!

 

The way to fix this is for the NH legislature to pass a version of Maine's or Vermont's law, then F&G will do its process to develop an administrative rule to implement the law. I would think that those North Country businesses might contact their representatives if they're feeling some pain.

 


 

 

 

Edited by jhwentworth

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The Legislature didn't fail to act. The Legislature has to be requested to act. No one asked them to act because it is not in the financial benefit of any of the groups that you listed but businesses... and even then only short term. The reason that we hold registration free events is to secure future members and registrations. It is like getting a sample at the supermarket; they give away the small free sample in the hopes of gaining future paying customers. The Legislature has been made aware over the years that the benefit to tourism is directly related to the number of registrations, when those numbers drop - for example the snowmobile registrations going from nearly 80,000 to around 60,000 - the Legislature see the effect in the official tourism numbers - in the prior case the drop from $1.2 Billion to $589 million... had the $1.2 billion been adjusted for inflation that number would difference would have been even worse. The event permitting process is what the Associations want to so that clubs may seek the benefit of gaining memberships and possible future registrations that spread the cost of the trails and enforcement over a larger number of riders and keep the cost of registrations down. 

 

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5 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

The Legislature didn't fail to act. The Legislature has to be requested to act.

John, I don't think that you really believe that. The legislature has the constitutional authority to pass legislation on any subject they choose; a court may rule it unconstitutional, or a governor may veto it, but they can act on it. Nobody has to ask them, any legislator can file a bill. Do lobbyists and special interests  play a role, sure, but they aren't required.

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The Legislature gets requested to act by having one of its members enter a LSR. No legislator made a LSR on the subject... even after the determination that a situation existed. 

 

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OK, so now that we can't determine how the hell this happened, let's discuss how to make it right for next year! Who do we need to contact to get the law changed, or authority moved, etc. Petition?

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Well said. But what’s interesting is what I’m reading on social media, especially from folks up north. There seems to be a fairly significant group that would like to see it go away. Most reasons I see is that it attracts to many people to a very small area up north resulting in trashed trails. 

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, however it seems like a no brainer that it has a detrimental effect on businesses that banked on the extra traffic....feel real bad for them given the narrow winter window of opportunity they work with.

Armand, what are you hearing up there?

 

 

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3 hours ago, smallengineguy said:

OK, so now that we can't determine how the hell this happened, let's discuss how to make it right for next year! Who do we need to contact to get the law changed, or authority moved, etc. Petition?

Well, the folks who can do something are here.

Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/links.aspx?x=3&id=28


Chairman: Cathryn Harvey   (Spofford)
Vice Chairman: Larry Laflame  (Berlin)
Clerk: Mark King  (Nashua)

Secretary: Donna Merrill  271-3125
State legislative email addresses are in the format: Firstname.Lastname@Leg.State.NH.US

Committee Members:

Name                     Address               

Bosman, James B.         243 Journeys End Road    Francestown NH 03043-3508
Comeau, Ed C.            212 Stoneham Road    Brookfield NH 03872-7403
Craig, Kevin B.          53 Prospect Street    Lancaster NH 03584-3252
Davis, Dan J.            6 Oakridge Road    Kensington NH 03833-5608
Dontonville, Roger W.    90 Lewin Road    Enfield NH 03748-4045
Egan, Timothy T.         220 Jesseman Road    Sugar Hill NH 03586-4236
Eisner, Mary A.          21R Derryfield Road    Derry NH 03038
Harvey, Cathryn A.       PO Box 414  50 Forestview Drive  Spofford NH 03462-0414
Howard, Raymond J.       311 Stockbridge Corner Road    Alton NH 03809-5241
Khan, Aboul B.           3 Greenleaf Drive    Seabrook NH 03874-4045
King, Mark R.            3 Lovewell Street    Nashua NH 03060-4506
Klose, John F.           PO Box 519    Epsom NH 03234-0519
L'Heureux, Robert J.     94 Back River Road    Merrimack NH 03054-2690
Laflamme, Larry L.       474 Second Avenue    Berlin NH 03570-1135
Love, David C.           4 Maple Street #3    Derry NH 03038-2345
Read, Ellen D.           283 Lita Lane    Newmarket NH 03857-2425
Ruprecht, Dennis M.      417 South Main Street    Landaff NH 03585-5221
Spillane, James A.       16 Swamp Road    Deerfield NH 03037-1323
Stack, Kathryn           7 Knollwood Drive    Merrimack NH 03054
Von Plinsky, Sparky      18 Allen Court    Keene NH 03431-1802

Who's My Rep?
http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/default.aspx

Legislative Service Requests (LSR) An LSR is a legislators request to the Office of Legislative Services to have a bill drafted.

http://gencourt.state.nh.us/lsr_search/LSR_Results.aspx


2019-0187    HB    Title:    relative to discounts for OHRV and snowmobile registration.
     Sponsors: (Prime) James Spillane , John Reagan, John Potucek, Kevin Verville, Alan Bershtein

2019-0627    HB    Title:    amending the laws governing OHRVs and snowmobiles.
     Sponsors: (Prime) Wayne Moynihan , Robert L'Heureux

2019-0721    HB    Title:    increasing certain fines for OHRV and snowmobile operation violations.
     Sponsors: (Prime) Wayne Moynihan , Robert L'Heureux

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18 hours ago, smallengineguy said:

OK, so now that we can't determine how the hell this happened, let's discuss how to make it right for next year! Who do we need to contact to get the law changed, or authority moved, etc. Petition?

I think the problem quickly becomes a focus on funding. Govt shutdown affects Transportation and Interior Appropriations bills.

 

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22 minutes ago, John Mercier said:

I think the problem quickly becomes a focus on funding. Govt shutdown affects Transportation and Interior Appropriations bills.

 

Why would NH need Federal funding to pass a bill that would give F&G officials, or officials from another agency,  greater authority to adjust our "free ride" weekend? There's a good parallel to the "free fishing in NH" days law.

The state statute authorizing the F&G executive director to establish 2 days per year of free fishing in NH. (RSA 541-A is the Administrative Procedure Act)
Section 214:1-e
    214:1-e Fishing Without a License. – The executive director may adopt rules under RSA 541-A establishing 2 days per year on which persons normally required to hold a license under RSA 214:1 may fish by angling only, in any public waters within the jurisdiction of the state without a license, except that those anglers participating in a fishing tournament on either day shall be required to possess a valid fishing license.
Source. 1989, 101:1, eff. May 1, 1989. 2016, 135:1, eff. July 26, 2016.

The resulting Administrative Rule adopted by F&G (Fis is the Fiscal Impact Statement prepared by the Legislative Budget Assistant)
CHAPTER Fis 1200  EDUCATION AND OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS
Statutory Authority:  RSA Chapter 214

PART Fis 1203  FREE FISHING DAY

 Fis 1203.01  Free Fishing Day.  No fishing license shall be required to take fish, by angling, in any public waters within the jurisdiction of the state on the first Saturday of June and the third Saturday in January, except that those anglers participating in a fishing tournament on either day shall be required to possess a valid fishing license.

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Because the Legislature is going to ask about the pressures placed on trail maintenance and enforcement. 

No federal funding of the Transportation Bill means no NRTP. No federal funding of the Interior Bill means no transfer of Dingell-Johnson and Pittman-Robinson, which means the F&G is going to have funding issues in the field. The State of NH must authorize expenditure of the federal funds in the State budget, and the State budget will have problems authorizing funds that they do not know when and what amount will be received. That is additional to the already existing situation of the short funding. What is being asked is to forego funding for the benefit of the local businesses... but it places pressure on system at risk.

 

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So it is as was said in other posts earlier is the party that dropped the ball, not legislation. Time for passing of the buck. Dennis Etchels any comments? Feedback?

 

Yes the weekend needs to go through JLCAR and is an admin rule. Up till the end of July when the new admin rules (Fis 1500) were adopted we were told that the weekend was still a go for the last weekend in January. I found it posted on MSA Facebook page that the weekend was moved to the first weekend in February. The fastest that we could (all the stars aliened) get a change would be three months. It has to go through the same process as the full Fis 1500 rules. We need to file, research on their end, public hearings, a comment period left open, a final proposal and then the JLCAR hearing.

We have over the last few years enjoyed this weekend just as much as all of you. We were not told the truth by both Maine and Vermont (Vermont has written a letter to NHSA saying sorry). As for this year we cannot just wave a magic stick and offer a weekend.  I would have your club approach NHSA or write a letter to NHFG asking for the weekend for next year. This is a decision that is made above my pay grade and would go through the Command Staff at Law Enforcement.

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